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The fight to rescue those who've disappeared

Since March, Thitima Meepan, head of the Mirror Foundation's Back to Home programme, must be relieved - her project will continue its work to re-unite disappeared people with their loved ones.

The project had faced difficulties since 2005 when its sponsors, the Asia Foundation and the United States Embassy in Thailand, cut their financial support.

The tiny project became even tinier when it had to cut its staff from seven to two. Only Thitima and one colleague remain, but their burden is growing as they get at least two phone calls reporting human disappearances every day.

Thanks to Manpower (Thailand), a leading company in the employment service industry, for seeing the importance of the Back to Home project and financing it. Since March, Manpower has hired two more workers for the project and also contributes Bt10,000 a month.

"As our work is to help human beings live a good life [by having good employment], we are willing to help people who are trapped in difficulties," Manpower's marketing manager Wannaporn Sriwattangkul said.    

Although the company has signed a contract to support the project only for ten months - until December this year - I still appreciate the effort.

Many might think the company just wanted to build its image, but that is fine by me. Nobody loses anything. The company builds a reputation, the Back to Home project has  more staff and the money to fund their work for ten months and the chance to bring more missing people home. 

Short-term support is better than nothing. We need more

companies like Manpower to step

forward. I hope after Manpower's term ends, other companies will step in to help.

This is not only to reunite disappeared people with their families, but also to fight human trafficking.

Since setting up in 2003, the Back to Home project has had reports of 1,006 cases of human disappearances. More than half of them are children.

Thitima said almost all the disappeared people are victims of human trafficking. They are used for sexual exploitation and forced labour, she said.

The Back to Home project coordinates with state agencies to trace disappeared people. They also warn the public about the dangers of human trafficking, as Thailand is a major source, transit and destination country for trafficked people.

So far the project is the country's only office that is working to bring back the disappeared and campaigning against human trafficking. Its website www.backtohome.org has become a centre for people to search and follow the cases of their disappeared love ones. More than 600 of the 1,006 disappeared people reported have been reunited with their families.

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